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Addison's Disease 

What is Addison’s Disease?

Addison’s Disease, also known as adrenal insufficiency, is a very rare disease that occurs as a result of the body’s inability to produce certain hormones sufficiently.

The adrenal glands above the kidneys fail to secrete, and cortisol and aldosterone hormones begin to decrease in the blood. Addison’s disease occurs in one of every 100,000 people.

Adrenal insufficiency is generally divided into two:

Primary Adrenal Insufficiency

This type of adrenal insufficiency is called Addison’s disease. Primary adrenal insufficiency is when the adrenal cortex is damaged and does not produce enough adrenocortical hormones.

About 70% of this class of failure is due to an autoimmune process. Other causes such as adrenal gland damage, tuberculosis, various bacterial, viral and fungal infections, adrenal gland bleeding and metastasis of cancer to the adrenal glands can also cause primary adrenal gland failure.

Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency

It is an insufficiency picture that occurs as a result of insufficient stimulation of the adrenal gland due to diseases affecting the pituitary and hypothalamus glands, where ACTH, the adrenal gland stimulating hormone, is secreted.

There is a decrease in the production of the pituitary hormone ACTH, and secondary adrenal insufficiency develops in relation to this.

What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of Addison’s disease often develop gradually over several months. In some cases, the disease progresses so slowly that these symptoms are ignored until a stressor, such as illness or injury, occurs and makes the symptoms worse.

Among These Symptoms;

  • State of extreme fatigue
  • Weight loss and severe loss of appetite
  • Fasting hypoglycemia
  • Low blood pressure and fainting caused by it

The Signs of the Disease are;

  • Darkening of the skin, especially on the head, neck, back of the hand and mucous membranes (especially the gingival mucosa)
  • Increased need for salt
  • Low blood sugar
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Stomach ache
  • Pain in muscles or joints
  • State of being angry
  • Depression or other behavioral disorders

How Is Addison’s Disease Treated?

Hormone replacement therapy is used in Addison’s disease. This disease usually requires lifelong treatment.

If necessary, aldosterone can be replaced with a synthetic steroid, fludrocortisone acetate, which is taken orally once a day. These drugs should be increased especially during times of stress, infection, surgery or injury.

Hormone therapy is usually successful. Once treatment is successful, people with Addison’s disease can lead a fairly normal life. Drug doses vary from patient to patient and according to the patient’s additional diseases.  In some cases, DHEAS can also be used rarely in women with Addison’s disease.

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